Illinois has an unemployment problem. Greedy and incompetent politicians ran the state into the ground. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Illinois’ average unemployment rate as 6.01 percent. The nation’s average was 4.85.
A leading factor in the unemployment problem is the state’s financial woes. Illinois has more than $14 billion in unpaid debts, a running deficit of $6 billion, and a pension liability that is $130 billion. Moreover, the state hasn’t passed a budget in two years, which has sunk its bond rating.
Surviving the Financial Crisis
It’s a terrible situation for the state’s unemployed population. If you’re unemployed, you’re urged to apply for Illinois unemployment as soon as possible. It’s one of the few state-funded programs that receives funding, because unemployment funds are in special reserve. The Department of Employment Security collects unemployment insurance from employers, and it’s used only to pay unemployed workers.
You may find that unemployment benefits are the only benefits the state can provide. It’s a dire situation in Illinois currently. Social service agencies are closing shop. There is little funding to provide low income people with temporary assistance, such as food stamps or cash assistance.
Historically, unemployed people would attend universities or community colleges with state-provided grant funds. The state’s universities aren’t receiving enough funding, and their enrollment numbers are way down. If going back to school was in your plan, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for some (if not all) of the costs.
Before you write off furthering your education, consider what federal funding is available to you. In 2009, Obama increased Pell grant benefits. This may be enough to fund your higher education.
Managing Your Finances
Plain and simple the state is hemorrhaging money, so what can you do to get back on your feet? You can become a better money manager. If you have some savings, try not to touch it. Try to rely only on the money coming in if you can, and try to spend as little as possible.
Create a budget and use it to determine how you’re spending money. You’ll need to quantify your daily spending and determine exactly where to make cuts. Eating out, extraneous shopping, and cable television may need to be cut so you can survive this difficult time.
That doesn’t mean you should suffer, but try to limit treats. If you and your spouse went to dinner and a movie once a week, try reducing date night to once a month and doing one or the other. Dinner at home and then a movie; or, dinner at a restaurant and a movie at home.
It goes without saying that now isn’t the time to make any big new purchases; however, you could renegotiate the cost of the expensive things you already own. You could consider refinancing your auto or home loans for lower cost payments and reduced interest rates. If your credit score is good and you have a history of paying on time, you could be a candidate for refinance.
You should communicate your unemployed status to all your creditors, including any credit cards you may have opened. They may be willing to lower your payment, or they will defer payments for a period of time (usually 90 to 180 days). If you’re able to get deferments, your credit score will not be affected.
Don’t stop looking for employment. The state’s unemployment program will help you in your job search, but you can help yourself, too. Set up Google alerts for open positions in your field. Although the state is broke, it’s not completely broken. Some programs are still functioning, so find out which government programs are available and contact them to see if you qualify for help.